Female Convict Scorpion:Jailhouse 41 (1972) is the second in a series of four women's prison films about a silent and unjustly imprisoned convict named Scorpion. The surreal landscapes, special effects, awesome soundtrack and unsentimental feminism elevate this film into one of the strangest, most visually interesting and moving films ever made. The final revenge fantasy takes it into the stratosphere.
Seven escaped convicts flee through ruined villages, meet ghost women, and fight for their lives.
Scorpion kicks ass.
The atmosphere is full of dreams that evolve at varying rates. Like Quest for Fire, the 1977 classic Empire of the Ants is based on an H.G. Wells story from the early 20th century. There are no gay characters in Empire of the Ants, just camp queen Joan Collins as the shady real estate scammer, among a cast of corrupt and disfunctional heterosexuals. In a totally corrupted and trashed America, destroying itself through unchecked greed, nuclear wastes are dumped indiscriminately. In "Dreamland Shores" even the water pipes are fake, non functioning props carefully planted among signs that declare the future locations of club houses, golf courses, and condos that nobody ever intends to build. The potential buyers are equally shams, a collection of divorced and penniless losers just along for the free ride, or to pick up on the opposite sex. There isn’t a happily married or honestly employed member in the bunch—most of them are disgruntled employees who’ve been so abused and exploited by their evil bosses, that as they flee the giant radioactive ant colony--that at some point they realized is herding them like cattle—the ants begin to seem only like the latest representatives of an unchecked and mercenary economy. Once they get to town they discover a population enslaved by the queen ant’s pheromones, who has them working the sugar refinery at full pitch, even importing sugar from abroad. By the time they face the giant ant queen themselves, their resistance takes on the quality of a long overdue labor strike.
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Along with Seconds and the Manchurian Candidate, The Island of Dr. Moreau is one of Frankenheimer’s three masterpieces. In between he made so many forgettable (and forgotten) films that we have to wonder what was up with that, really. You’ll notice a similar eyeball motif during the opening credits to that he used in Seconds. He also uses his stars in a similar way. While Rock Hudson’s gayness provided a subtle subtext to the horrifying conformist social pressures on Rock Hudson’s character in Seconds, The Island of Dr. Moreau is all about Marlon Brando. In case you’ve forgotten, Marlon actually owned an island somewhere in the South Pacific, where he produced a brood of unhappy children, who began murdering each other sometime in the eighties.
When Marlon makes his first screen appearance, wearing voluminous, tentlike robes, face covered with white powder, and carried on a divan, it is impossible not to gasp at the monstrousness which he has so scrupulously manifest. Not since Bette Davis has an aging star been so willing to reveal, and revel in, the horrors of the flesh.
It doesn’t end there. Again, s in reflections of a Golden Eye, we’ll be allowed the most unflattering visions of what has become of Marlon’s ass. It’s sad that his half animal/half human children kill him off with so much film time remaining, but perhaps it’s for the best.
There are rumors that a battle of the monstrous egos of Marlon and Val Kilmer was essential to the making of this masterpiece. They certainly seem to be competing over who can be more fey and more outrageous. We also get to watch Val doing Marlon imitations, although it doesn’t seem to be the lisping aristocratic Marlon of this film he is mocking, but an earlier Marlon.
Val plays the good doctor’s assistant, a masochistic bottom who sees Marlon’s snarling bestial progeny as delectable rough trade. When the revolution comes, he’s ecstatic. Let it come down, he thinks, and it does come tumbling down, the whole deformed creation built on slavery and genetic manipulations. And not a moment too soon.